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Lesson Ten: How is human and dolphin communication similar?


Dolphins and humans share many characteristics. Dolphins use soundsand body language to communicate and express similar interactions that occur in human parent/child relationships.

Learning Outcomes:

The learner will find several similarities between the way humans and dolphins use sound to communicate and express them in a Venn diagram.

Curriculum Alignment:

National Science Education Standards

Content Standard A: Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry

  • Understanding about scientific inquiry.
  • Employ simple equipment and tools to gather data and extend the senses.

Content Standard B: Physical Science

  • Sound is produced by vibrating objects. The pitch of the sound can be varied by changing the rate of vibration.

Content Standard C: Life Science

  • The characteristics of organisms
  • Organisms and their environments

Content Standard E: Science and Technology

  • Abilities of technological design
  • Understanding about science and technology
  • Abilities to distinguish between natural objects and objects made by humans.

Content Standard F: Science in Personal and Social Perspectives

  • Characteristics and changes in populations
  • Changes in environments
  • Science and technology in local challenges

Content Standard G: History and Nature of Science

  • Science as a human endeavor

NC SCOS Music Curriculum

Goal 4: The learner will compose and arrange music within specified guidelines. (National Standard 4)

  • 4.01 Create and arrange music to accompany readings or dramatizations.

Goal 8: The learner will understand relationships between music, the other arts, and content areas outside the arts. (National Standard 8)

  • 8.02 Identify ways in which the principles and subject matter of other content areas taught in the school are related to those of music.


one 60 minute period


Book “Dolphin talk: Whistles, Clicks and Clapping Jaws”

Technology Resources:



Tell students that you can whistle your own name and then whistle out the number of syllables that you have in your own name putting the accent on the correct syllable. For example Beverly would have three syllables with the first one being the loudest Bev’-er- ly. Have the students work with a partner to come up with a way to represent their name using whistles and clicks. Share “dolphin talk” names.


Read the Book “Dolphin Talk: Whistles, Clicks and Clapping Jaws” to the students. Make a list of all the ways dolphins communicate and the sounds they make with it. The list should include clicks, whistles, squeaks, chirp, releasing bubbles, movement-nodding, popping noises, clapping jaws, slapping tails, hit water with entire body, soft, gentle sounds when showing affection, rattle, burp, moan and groan


Use a Venn diagram or other graphic organizer to compare the way dolphins and humans communicate.

BioMusic graphic

Have students explain what some of these noises might sound like. Give students a variety of materials including balloons, whistles, straws, kazoo, pan pipe and a pail of water to allow them to experiment making dolphin sounds. The teacher may demonstrate a dolphin’s sound using a pitch pipe. Have the students do a short presentation to the class of the sounds they created. Have them demonstrate what the dolphin noises are and act out with a partner what they mean. See if the rest of the class can guess what the dolphin is communicating. Re-read Dolphin talk: Whistles, Clicks and Clapping Jaws. Allow students to add their dolphin interpretations to accompany the dramatization of the story.


Explore commonalities of dolphins and humans through the blind. Visually impaired humans use echolocation with the chirping of traffic walking signals. They also use their cane and glasses to echolocate.


Listen to the dolphins sing jazz and the Batman theme song at Epcot. Explore and compare work songs to spirituals.


Graphic organizer

Participation during dolphin name game.

Presentations of dolphin sounds using a variety of instruments. (balloon, mouth etc)


  • Echolocation — the use of ultra-high frequency sounds for navigation
  • Echo — the repetition of a sound resulting from reflection of the sound waves